NGO urges Myanmar to allow aid access to Rakhine State

By Ali Murat Alhas</p> <p>ANKARA (AA) – A London-based rights group on Wednesday called on the Myanmar government to allow unhindered and complete access for NGOs in northern Rakhine state.</p> <p>Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) said in a statement that since Aug. 25, 2017 — when Myanmar launched a military crackdown on the Rohingya Muslims — residents in northern parts of the country have complained of widespread shortages of food and medical aid, especially in Buthidaung, Rathedaung and Maungdaw Townships.</p> <p>“The Burmese authorities continue to show there is no limit to their cruelty and callousness by depriving civilians of aid as punishment for conflicts they have no control over,&quot; BHRN executive director Kyaw Win said in the statement.

“The international community cannot ignore widespread hunger and diseases are likely to spread through Rohingya and Rakhine communities who have been with limited aid since 2017.“

The rights group said it received “regular reports from villagers of food shortages, illness, and widespread suffering. ”

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled “Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience. ”

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

The UN has also documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces.

In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.